3 Cowboys with everything to gain from 2022 season finale
By Jerry Trotta
Technically speaking, the Dallas Cowboys have everything to play for this Sunday against the Washington Commanders. While jumping to the No. 1 seed is highly unlikely, it’s suddenly extremely possible the Cowboys supplant the Eagles, who’ve lost two straight and are really banged up, atop the NFC East.
In other words, don’t count on Dallas resting any of it starters. Assuming a player is healthy and has minimal risk of injury, they’ll be out there with bells on. Unless your name is Leighton Vander Esch, Johnathin Hankins, Tyler Biadasz or even Tony Pollard, the Cowboys will risk it all to nab a home playoff game.
Beyond the starters and big-name players, though, there are certain Cowboys who have everything to gain in the 2022 finale. You know, the players who could be gone in the offseason or sign a new contract with the franchise.
There were several worthy candidates, but these three made the final cut.
These Cowboys have everything to gain in 2022 season finale
3. Carlos Watkins, DL
The NFL is all about opportunity, and Watkins has made the most of his since late addition Johnathan Hankins went down with a pec strain.
Defensive tackle is arguably the weakest position on the roster (cornerback might take the cake now, but it’s solid at full-strength), and you can count on the front office both cutting bait with players and bringing in reinforcements this offseason.
Who might be on the chopping block is anyone’s guess, but Watkins has done nothing to harm his stock over the last several games.
While Watkins’ 62.4 player grade from Pro Football Focus isn’t anything special, it’s serviceable for a backup interior DL. He’s also managed two less pressures than Neville Gallimore on the season despite playing 94 fewer pass-rush snaps. Please do not overlook the significance of that.
Further, Watkins has three more pressures than Quinton Bohanna, and has logged a 69.9 PFF player grade over the last four games. Again we’re talking about a player who seldom gets more than 25 total snaps to produce.
If Watkins turns up against Washington, and in the first round of the playoffs, it’d be surprising if Dallas didn’t re-up his contract for the second straight offseason. Not a stretch to say he’s been the Cowboys’ most impactful defensive tackle not named Osa Odighizuwa.